Due to their special performance requirements, trucks and agricultural machinery still do not make it easy for engineers to bring them into the electric age. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are showing what a development kit for electric tractors could look like. The special feature of TUMtrac is its modular design, which can be individually adapted to suit the area of application. A standardized floor assembly forms the basis of the tractor. This is supplemented by an interchangeable battery, which can be placed at the front or rear of the vehicle depending on the task. The battery thus serves as a power source and at the same time as a counterweight for attachments such as mowers or snow ploughs.
On the one hand, the exchangeable battery reduces the weight of the vehicle, as it can be smaller than a permanently installed battery and therefore only the power that is actually needed is carried. Secondly, the batteries can also act as a kind of giant power bank. This means that electricity that farmers generate themselves using photovoltaics or wind power can be buffered and used for their own work. “What is currently still a marginal phenomenon in the car sector, we can use specifically for the design of our tractor system in the agricultural sector. The exchangeable battery can offer agricultural businesses real added value through greater flexibility in use,” says Prof. Markus Lienkamp, Head of the Chair of Vehicle Technology at TUM.
Overall concept comprising software and hardware
In addition to the hardware, the research team is also concentrating on the development of software adapted to the overall concept. After entering the desired requirements, the software can be used to evaluate different tractor concepts in terms of their economic efficiency for agricultural operations. The holistic approach is intended to support the modular approach of the platform, as the challenges in the respective working environment can be addressed quickly. In this way, the researchers are addressing the increasingly complex reality of work in agriculture. Constantly changing conditions require more flexibility in equipment. This is where TUMtrac could make a contribution to decarbonization in the agricultural sector – worldwide. Website of the research project: http://go.tum.de/228132